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Frequently Asked Questions

Get Information on the Mills Act Property Tax Reduction

DOCUMENTS

Informational Handout (PDF) provides information on the Mills Act program, eligibility and application requirements, contract conditions, and fees.

Council Policy 700-46 (PDF) outlines the San Diego City Council's policy on the Mills Act program.

Mills Act Application (PDF) is required for all Mills Act requests. Please mail or hand-deliver your completed application to:

ATTN: Historical Resources Board Secretary
Historical Resources Section
City of San Diego
1222 First Avenue, MS 413
San Diego, CA 92101

FAQ

How much will I save on my property taxes?

The amount you save will depend on your property's location, size and comparable rents in the area. The value continues to be assessed by the County Tax Assessor's office using a formula and procedures contained in state law. Property tax reductions result when the property tax amount that is based on the Mills Act value is compared to the previous property tax amount. The savings vary from property to property, and have ranged from 20% to 70% based on the County Tax Assessor's property valuations in accordance with the state law formula. Properties that have been under the same ownership for a long time (e.g., pre-Prop. 13), where the property taxes are already low compared to homes sold at the peak of the market, will most likely not benefit from the Mills Act.

Is my building eligible for the Mills Act without local historical designation?

No; local historical designation is required before you can enter into a Mills Act agreement. Even if your property is listed on the National Register and/or California Register, but is not designated historical by the City of San Diego, your property is not eligible for the Mills Act.

What is the term of the Mills Act agreement?

The terms of Mills Act agreements are established by state law. The initial term of the agreement is ten years. The agreement is automatically renewed each year for an additional year, and changes the expiration date so that 10 years is still left in the term of the agreement. The agreement will thus continue in effect indefinitely unless notice is served by either party for the automatic renewals to stop. If either party serves notice for the automatic renewals to stop, the agreement will expire on the agreement's current expiration date, which would be about ten years after the notice is recorded.

What are the responsibilities of a Mills Act agreement?

The responsibilities of Mills Act agreements are established by state law and any other requirements set up by the local Mills Act program. Generally, the property owner is required to maintain and preserve the site in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards. All other local regulations on historical sites in the City of San Diego Municipal Code also apply.

If I sell my property, does the new owner have to apply again to obtain the Mills Act?

If you own a property that has been designated as historical by the Historical Resources Board and you have a Mills Act agreement recorded on your property, the Mills Act benefits go with the land. That way, new owners "inherit" the agreement's benefits and responsibilities.

Is the Mills Act available to all local individual historically designated structures and those in established local historical districts?

Yes, except within Redevelopment Areas. The Mills Act is not uniformly allowed for all buildings in these areas, especially not for commercial structures. You should check with the staff of the particular Redevelopment Area to find out if they will approve a Mills Act agreement.

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